Join the #SaveTheMermaidsChallenge

By: Ric Urban, Senior Biologist

NEWPORT, Ky. — Mermaids are ambassadors for our marine environments and freshwater ecosystems. As they make their way to Newport Aquarium from around the world this week, it is the perfect time to kick-off our #SaveTheMermaidsChallenge. These mythical creatures will be swimming with their freshwater fish friends in the Amazon Tunnel through October 15. They’ll delight guests and share their conservation stories in daily meet-and-greets.

Mermaid Calliope

Mermaid Calliope took a break along the banks of Ohio River. The Ohio River is one of the largest watersheds in our region.

The #SaveTheMermaidsChallenge is one of the ways we bring awareness to the plastics we use every day and how we can work to reduce our dependency of plastics. The mermaids need us! Our oceans need us! Our rivers need us! Mermaids don’t like swimming with plastics.

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Seahorses don’t like swimming with plastic straws, and neither do mermaids.

Newport Aquarium is part of the Aquarium Conservation Partners (ACP) which is a first-of-its-kind collaboration created to increase the collective impact of aquariums on ocean and freshwater conservation. The ACP was founded by Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Aquarium, and Shedd Aquarium. These three major aquariums were joined by Newport Aquarium and 14 other aquariums throughout North America to make a change. Newport Aquarium and its ACP partners are committed to eliminating all plastic straws and single-use bags, and significantly reduce or eliminate plastic beverage bottles by 2020. We first told you about the In Our Hands campaign here on the blog, back in the summer.

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In Our Hands is a consumer campaign of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), a coalition of 19 U.S. aquariums taking action together to advance ocean and freshwater conservation.

When you visit Newport Aquarium to see the mermaids, you can share your stories with them in Shark Ray Bay Theater and tell them how you are ‘kicking the plastic’ habit. You can also see them swimming in the Amazon Tunnel, take a selfie with your refillable water bottle and the mermaid!

I have had some time to talk to the mermaids and hear their stories of where they live and the impact of plastic pollution on their underwater environments. Mermaid Coral is the protector of the coral reefs.

Newport Aquarium Mermaids

Mermaid Coral is the protector of the coral reefs.

While talking with her, I discovered the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs around the world are dying. The oceans are fun places to swim. Mermaid Coral and her mermaid sisters are entertained by us humans as we jump and play in the sun on the beach. A big problem for the merfolk is we use sunscreens that wash off in the water and harm the coral reefs. Mermaid Coral would like us to start using biodegradable sunscreens that will still protect us but not harm the reefs and the fishes that swim in the oceans.

Mermaid Calliope

Mermaid Calliope is from the Caribbean and does not like plastics. You can’t swim with her if you use plastics.

Mermaid Calliope is from the Caribbean and does not like plastics. You can’t swim with her if you use plastics. She loves metal re-usable straws. They get nice and cold and make her sweet tea “yummy.” Plastic straws are in the Top 10 of plastic debris found on the beaches and in the oceans. Many seabirds and mammals have ingested plastic straws that have harmed them.

Ninety percent of all the trash floating in the oceans is made of plastics. The #SaveTheMermaidsChallenge is our way as leaders and part of the ACP initiatives to reduce sources of plastic pollution in the ocean and freshwater ecosystems.  Our “plastic pollution” problem is not just an ocean problem or a freshwater problem.  Plastic Pollution starts as a land problem!

Join us in the #SaveTheMermaidsChallenge and tag us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to show how you are reducing your dependency on plastics. Everyone that shares with us will be registered for a raffle to win a “Plastic Free” Newport Aquarium package and a tour of the Newport Aquarium by yours truly.

Let’s take the #SaveTheMermaidsChallenge Together!

Mermaids Return to Newport Aquarium – with Pirates!

NEWPORT, Ky. — Mermaids return to Newport Aquarium to enchant guests September 29 – October 15, and this year they’re bringing pirates with them! Visitors will be amazed when they see mermaids swimming gracefully in the 37-foot long, 120,000-gallon Amazon Tunnel alongside some of the biggest freshwater fish in the world, the arapaima. Mermaids will be swimming from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day.Mermaids 2017

Newport Aquarium guests also will have the opportunity to personally meet a mermaid while she’s sitting on her throne inside Shark Ray Bay Theater. Daily mermaid dive and meet-and-greet times are included with regular admission, and guests can visit NewportAquarium.com for more information.

New for 2017- guests will encounter swashbuckling pirates at every turn through their Newport Aquarium adventure and even have the chance to meet a pirate in the aquarium’s newest experience – Stingray Hideaway.

Newport Aquarium Mermaids

Visitors will be greeted by mermaids swimming in the 37-foot long, 120,000-gallon Amazon Tunnel.

“Newport Aquarium’s mermaids are a tradition Cincinnati looks forward to every year,” said Chad Showalter, senior marketing and communications manager at Newport Aquarium. “And this year’s addition of pirates will give guests even more to discover during their adventure.”

Mermaids and Pirates Ball
The festivities kick off with the Mermaids and Pirates Ball on Friday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. This after-hours family-friendly costume party includes appetizers and refreshments, dancing, an adventure map and mermaid and pirate-themed activities. There’s also a special mermaid meet-and-greet and much more. Tickets can be purchased online for this signature event.

Mermaids and Pirates Breakfast
Another add-on experience this year is the Mermaids and Pirates Breakfast on Oct. 1, 8, and 15 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Guests can enjoy breakfast with their families in Newport Aquarium’s Riverside Room. All guests get exclusive access to meet a mermaid and pirate. After breakfast, guests will be invited into the aquarium before it opens to the public.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

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 Newport Aquarium, named one of the top 10 U.S. aquariums in 2017 by USA Today’s 10Best.com, one of the top U.S. aquariums in 2016 by Leisure Group Travel, and has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

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One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Discover the Wonder of Mermaids at Newport Aquarium Oct. 1 – Oct. 16

Mermaids return to Newport Aquarium to enchant guests October 1 – 16. Visitors will be amazed when they see mermaids swimming gracefully in the 37-foot long, 120,000-gallon Amazon Tunnel alongside some of the biggest freshwater fish in the world, the Arapaima. Mermaids will be swimming from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week, and 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.
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The festivities kick off with the Mermaid & Pirate Ball on Friday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. This after-hours family-friendly costume party is the first opportunity for visitors to see the Mermaids at Newport Aquarium in 2016! It includes appetizers and refreshments, dancing, an adventure map and mermaid and pirate-themed activities throughout the aquarium. There’s also a special mermaid meet-and-greet and much more. Tickets can be purchased online for this signature event.

Beginning Saturday, Oct. 1, during daily operating hours, Newport Aquarium guests will have the opportunity to personally meet a mermaid while she’s sitting on her throne inside Shark Ray Bay Theater. Mermaid dive and meet-and-greet times are included with regular admission, and times are subject to change, guests can visit NewportAquarium.com/Mermaids for the latest schedule to plan their visit.

Another add-on experience this year is the Mermaid & Pirate Breakfast on Oct. 2, 9, and 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Guests can enjoy breakfast with their families in Newport Aquarium’s Riverside Room overlooking a spectacular view of the Ohio River and Downtown Cincinnati. After breakfast, guests will be invited into the Aquarium before it opens to the general public. All guests get exclusive access to meet a mermaid up-close and out of the water during a meet-and-greet, and see one swimming in the Amazon Tunnel. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet a pirate during breakfast.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

Newport Aquarium, named one of the top U.S. aquariums in 2016 by Leisure Group Travel, and voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

 

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One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Tail Talk: Weeki Wachee Mermaids at Newport Aquarium

By Madison Wallace, Newport Aquarium PR Aide

Mermaid Taylor interacts with children while swimming in Newport Aquarium's Coral Reef tunnel.

Mermaid Taylor interacts with children while swimming in Newport Aquarium’s Coral Reef tank.

NEWPORT, Ky. — Guests visiting Newport Aquarium might be surprised and delighted to find that mermaids have joined the finned inhabitants of our Coral Reef exhibit.

For the second year in a row, the Weeki Wachee Mermaids have made their way upstream from their home in Weeki Wachee, Fla.

Weeki Wachee is home to the deepest naturally occurring spring in North America. Crystal clear and seemingly bottomless, this spring is the highlight of the 538-acre Florida state park—and happens to be home to more mermaids than humans!

Looking into the pristine waters of Weeki Wachee Springs, it seems as though the spring should be inhabited by mermaids.

In 1947, Newton Perry, a U.S. Navy veteran, was inspired by this very vision and purchased the springs.

Seeing a potential business, Perry invented a more natural-looking method of underwater breathing and constructed a 16-seat underwater theater alongside the spring.

As a previous Navy diving trainer, Perry was more than capable of teaching aspiring mermaids to perform 20-feet under the water breathing off of air hoses—in a tail no less!

In no time, Perry’s mermaids began to attract attention, performing shows daily.

By the 1950s, women were traveling from as far as Tokyo to audition to become a Weeki Wachee Mermaid, and celebrities like Elvis were attending shows.

Elvis Presley visited the Weeki Wachee Mermaids in 1961.

Elvis Presley visited the Weeki Wachee Mermaids in 1961.

For the past 60 years, Weeki Wachee has carried on the same mysterious and enchanting legacy of mermaids, and has since become a Fla. State Park—technically making the Weeki Wachee mermaids government employees!

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park continues to offer three mermaid shows daily, based on the story of “The Little Mermaid”.

In addition to performing, the Weeki Wachee Mermaids have hit the road, traveling as far the United Kingdom, and regularly visit aquariums across the U.S.

But … What does it take to become a traveling, Weeki Wachee Mermaid?

Well, according to Mermaid Chelsea, almost a full year of intense training.

“It’s not like ‘here’s a mermaid tail, here’s an air hose, breathe’,” said Mermaid Chelsea, laughing. “It’s a step-by-step process.”

After becoming scuba certified (which is a requirement), mermaid trainees first practice all of the underwater choreography without a tail, learning how to master the constant 5 mph currents present in the springs.

Mermaid Chelsea has been a professional mermaid for 3 1/2 years.

Mermaid Chelsea has been a professional mermaid for 3 1/2 years.

The next step is to practice the same choreography 20-feet underwater, breathing through an air hose. Only after those are mastered, do mermaid trainees attempt them in a tail.

But, once you pass your mermaid test, you’re basically a mermaid for life.

“Once you’re in, it’s like a mermaid sorority. We’re all so close,” said Mermaid Chelsea. “We have to trust one another with everything we do.”

An average day in the life of a mermaid often includes two to three hours of underwater performances, and often features appearances from manatees, sea turtles, otters and even alligators.

The Weeki Wachee Mermaids also regularly perform choreographed shows at aquariums, but here at Newport Aquarium, they have the opportunity to interact with each guest one-on-one.

“I love Newport Aquarium. I love the fact that it’s up close and personal. Every kid almost gets his or her own personal interaction with a mermaid!,” said Mermaid Chelsea.

The Weeki Wachee Mermaids at Newport Aquarium can be seen swimming in the Coral Reef tank from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. through Oct. 12.

After encountering these amazing creatures here at Newport Aquarium, it’s possible that you might just be interested in becoming one yourself.

“Just keep swimming. Really practice, and feel free to come try out. We have tryouts all the time!,” said Mermaid Chelsea.

But, if you’re not interested in quitting your day job, Weeki Wachee Springs also offers weekend-long Adventures of the Spring Mermaid Camps for children and Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camps for adults.

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Newport Aquarium has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since May 15, 1999. Named one of the best aquariums in the U.S. by Travel Channel and USA Today, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky jewel attraction is home to: The world’s first and only Shark Bridge; the world’s first Shark Ray Breeding Program; Mighty Mike – the biggest and baddest American alligator outside the state of Florida; the largest and most diverse collection of sharks in the Midwest; and one of the world’s largest and most diverse penguin exhibits. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

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One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Weeki Wachee Mermaids return to Newport Aquarium Sept. 25-Oct. 12

Special engagement extended to 18 days for 2015 due to popular demand

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NEWPORT, Ky. — The world-famous Mermaids from Weeki Wachee Springs (Fla.) State Park will return to Greater Cincinnati this fall to enchant Newport Aquarium guests Sept. 25 through Oct. 12.

“The Weeki Wachee Mermaids tremendously enjoyed their visit to Newport Aquarium in 2014,” said John Athanason, spokesperson for Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. “Because of the overwhelmingly positive response we received last year from the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky community, we have extended the Weeki Wachee Mermaids’ visit to 18 days this year, allowing them to engage with even more folks from the region.”

Included with admission to Newport Aquarium, guests will be able to see real-life mermaids clad in colorful fishtailed costumes gracefully glide through the aquarium’s 60,000-gallon Coral Reef tank, which that features nearly 200 aquatic animals and more than 50 species of fish, including a newly added zebra shark, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily*.

Mermaid collage

Newport Aquarium guests will also have the opportunity to personally meet a mermaid, as well as have their pictures taken in the aquarium’s Shark Ray Bay Theater from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. daily*.

An exclusive event added to the Weeki Wachee Mermaids’ visit to Newport Aquarium is the Mermaid & Pirate Family Ball, an after-hours family-friendly costume party on Sept. 25 that includes appetizers and refreshments, a treasure hunt, dancing and a special mermaid meet-and-greet. Newport Aquarium is giving away a four-pack of tickets to the Mermaid & Pirate Family Ball to one lucky fan who enters its Facebook sweepstakes, which runs Sept. 7-14.

Also new for 2015, Newport Aquarium is offering a combo ticket with BB Riverboats, allowing the public to enjoy a full day of mermaids and pirates for one low price. The Meet the Mermaids, Cruise with the Pirates ticket is for Oct. 9 and includes admission to Newport Aquarium and the Pirates of the Ohio Cruise on the Belle of Cincinnati fleet, as well as a picnic-style buffet lunch in the Aquarium’s award-winning Riverside Room.

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Additional mermaid encounters at Newport Aquarium during the Weeki Wachee Mermaids’ 18-day engagement include Breakfast with a Mermaid on Oct. 4 and Oct. 11.

Tickets are limited for Mermaid & Pirate Family Ball, the Meet the Mermaids, Cruise with the Pirates combo, and Breakfast with a Mermaid are available for purchase at NewportAquarium.com.

The return of the Weeki Wachee Mermaids comes on the heels of their popular 10-day visit to Newport Aquarium in October 2014, which was the 67-year-old institution’s first visit to the Midwest.

The mermaids are travelling from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, a freshwater spring north of Tampa, Fla., home of underwater mermaid appearances and performances since 1947.

For more information on Newport Aquarium, visit NewportAquarium.com or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474).

*Mermaid dive and meet-and-greet times are subject to change. Check website for schedule.

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Newport Aquarium has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since May 15, 1999. Named one of the best aquariums in the U.S. by Travel Channel and USA Today, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky jewel attraction is home to: The world’s first and only Shark Bridge; the world’s first Shark Ray Breeding Program; Mighty Mike – the biggest and baddest American alligator outside the state of Florida; the largest and most diverse collection of sharks in the Midwest; and one of the world’s largest and most diverse penguin exhibits. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Stay Hooked In: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | YouTube

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

World-Famous Mermaids to Splash into Newport Aquarium

Special, Limited-Engagement begins Oct. 10 – for 10 days only

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NEWPORT, Ky. – For the first time in the Midwest, the world-famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids will entertain Newport Aquarium guests Oct. 10-19.

Free with Newport Aquarium admission, guests will be able to view a real-life mermaid, clad in a colorful fish-tailed costume, swimming underwater from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. The mermaids will dive in the aquarium’s 60,000-gallon Coral Reef exhibit that features nearly 200 aquatic animals and more than 50 species of fish.

Guests will also be able to personally meet and talk with a mermaid, as well as have their pictures taken in the aquarium’s Shark Ray Bay Theater from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. each day.

(Via Weeki Wachee Springs State Park: Weeki Wachee Mermaids performing to “Mermaid” by Train. Published May 9, 2012. Note: The mermaids are not scheduled to perform choreographed routines at Newport Aquarium.)

“Kids have been entertained by watching mermaids on television and movies their entire lives,” said Chad Showalter, senior marketing manager at Newport Aquarium. “Now they’ll have the opportunity to have an up-close encounter with a real-life mermaid. It’ll be an experience they’ll never forget.”

Additional mermaid encounters at Newport Aquarium will be available throughout the 10-day engagement, including a mermaid-themed Overnight Adventure and Breakfast with a Mermaid. Tickets are limited and details on how to purchase tickets are available on the Newport Aquarium website, NewportAquarium.com.

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The mermaids are travelling from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, a freshwater spring north of Tampa, Fla., home of underwater mermaid appearances and performances since 1947.

Click here for more information on Weeki Wachee Mermaids at Newport Aquarium, or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474).

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Newport Aquarium, the No. 1 aquarium in the country according to USA Today’s 10Best.com, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler in 2014 and by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Find us on: Facebook.com/NewportAquarium | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com